Ocean Unit Activities

Ocean Unit Activities for First Grade

Okay, everyones knows Take Me Out to the Ballgame right? Good!

Sing along with me: 

Take me out to the ocean, take me out to the sea!

Help keep my kiddos engaged in class, so I can save my sanity!

It’s that time of year again…the last few weeks of school.

Last Weeks of School

Still LOTS of things to do but we know that those lazy days of summer aren’t that far away.

So, what do we do to keep our little ones engaged while upping the fun factor just a little?

In my room, our OCEAN unit has been my go-to-sanity-saver!

Ocean Unit Activities in Binder

It’s engaging and there are tons of opportunities for hands-on learning and outdoor fun.

Plus, it ties in nicely with the upcoming summer holidays without actually talking about it and sending things into a tailspin ;)

Dive Into a Good Book!

We kick things off with 'The Delivery’.

The delivery of a bundle of books for a new theme in our classroom is always an exciting event!

Ocean Unit Books Delivery in Inflatable Pool

As expected, my kiddos dove right into the pile of ocean books.

Had it been a warmer day, I would’ve grabbed our little pool of books and headed outdoors!

We went with Plan B…reading in our room while imagining we were at the beach!

Ocean Poem

Of course, our weekly poem also ties in with the new theme.

This one is awesome because it’s to the tune of ‘Take Me Out to the Ballgame’…doesn’t get much more summery than that!

Ocean Poem: Take Me Out To The Ocean

Warning: It will be stuck in your head for a loooooong time. Worth it though since the kids love it!

Grab your own printable copy of the Ocean poem below! It will automatically download to your Downloads folder once you click.

Free Ocean Poem Printable Download

Ocean Books

My first graders also create their own ocean books during the unit.

It’s a great school-home connection since they can take them home and share their learning!

Another bonus is that they become quite independent with the pages so I can actually do individual assessments while they work on their books!

Yes! You heard that correctly…I can work with kiddos at my table without a ton of interruptions. Ocean Unit Student Booklet

I LOVE the ocean books because once we’ve done a couple of the animal pages together, they can carry on independently.

Annnnnnd they enjoy it because they are fascinated by all things ocean.

Yay! Happy kiddos, happy teacher!

Double yay when it happens during the last weeks of school. #wegotthis

Activating Schema

We start out with the Thinking About Ocean Life page to get their schema going. 

I put up the vocabulary cards for the unit which will stay up as a reference for them. They also help my little ones who have a hard time coming up with ideas for this page.

Ocean Vocabulary Word Cards in Pocket Chart

They draw or write about what they already know and list questions they would like answered.

As we learn about individual ocean animals, we record the information on anchor charts.

I’ve found it useful for first graders to follow this format: Key Words, Important Information & Fun Facts.

It takes some practice and modeling at the beginning but once they get the hang of it, it’s smooth sailing!

Ocean Units Anchor Charts First Grade

The ocean book pages follow the same format so my little ones eventually move from using the anchor charts to sorting the information independently.

Using the familiar format also supports my little ones who can become easily overwhelmed with open-ended writing activities.

A Whale of a Tale

We have some BIG fun with our learning about whales!

First, I show them some whale ‘facts’ and they have to decide if they’re True or False.

Ocean Unit True or False Slides

While showing the slides on the whiteboard, we go through the questions as a class. Here are a few of them:

Ocean Unit True or False Slide 1

Ocean Unit True or False Slide 2

Ocean Unit True or False Slide 3

Whale of a Tale starts a lively discussion about what we know (or don’t know) about whales!

They’re eager to find out if their answers were correct.

Whale Video

Next, we watch this awesome Whales Fun Facts for Kids video on YouTube to learn about these majestic creatures.

Love his ‘Fun Facts about Animals’ videos! 

They’re short and packed with bitesize bits of information that my first graders can retain. He also has another great video for sharks.

Highly recommend for Kindergarten to third graders.

Mini Booklets

We take our Whale of a Tale one step further by making True/False booklets.

My kiddos get a kick out of taking them home to quiz their families.

After we watched the video and figured out the correct answers, they chose the 4 that they thought were the ‘trickiest’ and wrote them in their booklets.

Of course, we needed to make our own little whales to go home with the booklets! Whale paper craft for ocean unit

These were easy to prep: just slice up 4 sizes of paper and you're good to go.

Whale paper craft prep

Let's Paint!

My kiddos wanted to create an ocean mural so we decided to do some painting!

They drew their ocean creatures and then traced the outlines with a black marker.

It was amazing to watch them take their time researching their animals and trying to make them as realistic as possible.

Then they painted away...it was messy and fun!

We’re still putting the mural together but here are a few highlights!

Ocean watercolor kids art 

Ocean watercolor kids art

Aww, feels like these two should be characters in a story...

Ocean watercolor kids artwork whale and jellyfish

So that’s a little snapshot of some of our ocean fun!

I’m working on surprising my kiddos with an outdoor water table with ocean creatures (of the plastic variety, of course).

While the last few weeks of school can be exhausting, it’s also the the last chance we have to make memories with our little ones.

Until next time,

Happy teaching!